What it is: The 4Runner TRD Pro is the ultra off-road capable SUV that Toyota introduced a few years ago. The current 4Runner was actually released as a 2010 model, but model sales have actually increased tremendously as SUVs have become more popular. None for being one of the most reliable and durable SUVs, a more extreme off-road version was a likely outcome. The base 4Runner, with an SR5 trim that starts at $37,305, the TRD Pro tips the scales at a hefty $52,120; so, Toyota has definitely packed in the options.
All 4Runners are powered by the aging 4.0-liter V6 engine that produces 270 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque. It is nothing special, but the gas mileage it returns, 16 MPG city and 19 MPG highway, is pretty bad. Honestly, most buyers won’t care, though. The TRD Pro has unique 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in meaty, all-terrain tires that are designed to provide off-road traction, while also providing some on-road comfort. I’ve reviewed two different 4Runner TRD Pros and have had a pretty negative experience with driving with them on the highway. There was a distinct wobble at around 65-75 MPH in the first test unit and my most recent one had it around 50-55 MPH. They also tend to wander back and forth slightly on the road, which might be something that you get used to, but felt pretty annoying to me.
The TRD Pro also features a FOX Shock and tuned suspension, which again, is designed to provide performance on extreme terrain. I am not an off-road vehicle dude, so I’m not particularly qualified to say how the TRD Pro performs on extreme terrain, but the consensus online is that it does a pretty good job.
There are a bunch of other appearance-aimed features like a TRD roof rack, special badging, interior trim and a silver metal skid plate under the front bumper with TRD emblazoned in red. Yes, a skid plate is something functional but you also have to wonder how many buyers of a $50,000 SUV are planning on risking their vehicle in a place where a rock could damage the oil pan or front suspension.
There’s nothing particularly interesting about the 4Runner, short of a tailgate party mode button on the dash that pushes the audio to the rear speakers and increases the bass, and also an extremely handy slide-out cargo tray in the trunk area. It locks in place and can hold up to 440 pounds of cargo and will extend more than a foot outside of the hatch opening. Pretty cool!
MPG: 17 combined/16 city/19 highway
Upsides: Off-road capability.
Downsides: High price and terrible gas mileage.
Wrap-up: Is the 4Runner TRD Pro off-road capable? Absolutely! Is it the worst version to drive on a day-to-day basis and costs the most? Also, yes. The TRD Pro version packs both bravado and capability in spades, but at what cost? It would be honestly hard to ignore the new Land Rover Defender which has a base MSRP $4,400 lower if you wanted something rugged and a little more refined (then again, you don’t get the low cost of Toyota maintenance and certainly less longevity). While I do understand why you would buy a 4Runner TRD Pro, I don’t covet their purchase.